Old Man McManor was the foulest-tempered fellow you ever did see; but he owned and operated the only sawmill over in Camden, so folks had to deal with him. Whenever anyone didn’t pay on time or crossed him, he’d take out his horsewhip and flail at them until they ran away cussing or broke down crying.
One evening McManor was out riding when a coyote scared his horse and it bolted. McManor was thrown down next to the bridge by the sawmill, and his head broke right open. Died instantly. There was a general sigh of relief when the sawmill was taken over by a nice fellow who’d moved to Texas from Kansas.
Everyone thought they’d seen the last of McManor, until one night when Jerry Jones, an old enemy of McManor, made his way home via the old sawmill bridge after drinking at the tavern. Jerry was halfway across the old bridge when a plume of green steam came rising up through the boards of the bridge. He stopped and watched the mist solidify into the translucent body of Old Man McManor. The specter flourished his whip at poor, drunken Jerry, who screamed in terror and went running back the way he had come with the ghost hard on his heels. When Jerry reached the giant pecan tree that shaded the road, the ghost of Old Man McManor vanished at once with another popping sound.
Since Jerry had a reputation for drinking, no one believed his story until the ghost challenged the local parson that Sunday and didn’t stop till the preacher recited some Scripture. McManor continued to harass the townspeople for years, until the first World War when folks began driving cars that were fast enough that the ghost couldn’t catch them.
Folks figured the ghost would give up haunting the bridge after the town got so modern. But mean old McManor still had one last hurrah in him, and it was a doozy. The local football team was driving home in the bus one night after winning a big game, when all at once the bus stalled right in front of McManor’s bridge. Well, the boys started joking around about the ghost, until they noticed that the road outside was glowing green. The boys nudged one another nervously and then turned to look out the rear window of the bus—right into the twisted smile of Old Man McManor.
The boys started shrieking, the teachers chiming in just as loud, and the ghost of Old Man McManor lifted up the back of the bus as if it weighed no more than a rabbit. The team tumbled out of their seats, screaming and praying, and the football coach bravely climbed up the sloping aisle, waving a fist at the ghost in the strange, pulsing green light. Just then the sheriff came roaring over the bridge on the opposite side of the road. As soon as his headlights illuminated the ghost holding the bus, Old Man McManor vanished with a popping sound. The sheriff slammed on his brakes in shock as the school bus and the team crashed to the ground. It wasn’t long after this event that they built a new highway and the old bridge was torn down. The ghost of Old Man McManor hasn’t been seen since.
S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.